Villorba, the birthplace of the 11th Superior General of the Oblates, has renamed a plaza in the city after its famous son: Piazza Arcivescovo Marcello Zago. The ceremony of renaming the plaza took place on March 1, 2016, the 15th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Zago. At the time of his death, he was serving as Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Among the several speeches given during the dedication, his niece, Manuela Zago, spoke of her beloved uncle:
I would like to remember Father Marcello on the 15th anniversary of his death and share with you, if only in synthesis and incompletely, that which animated his religious life. As many of you already know, Fr. Marcello was born just a few steps away from this piazza.
His life was entirely dedicated to the missionary Church. He himself revealed the secret of his whole personality and fruitful activity in his spiritual testament. He wrote: For me, there are three important things: Jesus Christ, the Church and the mission.
A man, a religious at the service of the Church, esteemed by Pope John Paul II, but also a teacher of humanity, communicated in many ways.
He paid attention to every person he met, believer or non-believer, or of a different religion; the welcome he had for everyone was personal and sincere.
In spite of his many and important responsibilities, he always maintained the humility and the simplicity of the bygone families of this place.
He had been a missionary in Laos for several years; there he nurtured a passion for the study of oriental languages and for the study of Buddhism. He founded there a center of study and research that allowed him to establish wonderful relationships with the civil and religious authorities.
In 1973, for the first time he accompanied a delegation of the principal Buddhist authorities of the East to meet Pope Paul VI.
We can find a synthesis of his entire missionary zeal and his experience in Laos in an interview he gave in 2000, on the occasion of the Jubilee Year, not long before his death. Here are his words:
“I would say that I experienced my greatest joy in the evening, after having met so many persons, simple people, intellectuals, Buddhist monks. I realized that in some way, I had shared the same love of God for them, and then, I perceived that they too were seeking this supreme reality, not only as an indefinable reality, as they say in Buddhism, but one who also has a heart for real persons.
I believe that at these very moments, more than in others, I saw my vocation fully realized.”
Fr. Marcello, with the witness of his life, has left us a precious inheritance, a good that we will guard with care.